evolutionary

At half past six on a Tuesday morning the alarm clock goes off in a bedroom in Roswell, New Mexico, where twenty-eight-year-old Tiffany McGregor had been sleeping peacefully up till now. She sighs as she gets up to take a shower. While she is doing this her...

Cecilia Heyes, author of Cognitive Gadgets (Harvard University Press), spoke to us about the book and her theory.

Could you set out the book’s main thesis?
In humans, new cognitive mechanisms – new ways of thinking – have emerged, not by...

Kevin Laland is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews. His book, Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind, won in the Academic Monograph category of the...

We have at least one thing in common – we both did a DPhil at Sussex. What brought you to Sussex?
The late great Stuart Sutherland… a brilliant psychologist, the eccentric’s eccentric and the founder of the Department of Experimental Psychology at Sussex...

Darcy and Wickham. Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Sherlock and Moriarty. Whatever the genre – be it romance, fantasy or detective fiction – many of our favourite stories involve a sublime double act of a hero and villain, characters that inhabit our minds and linger in the...

You started out studying the social behaviour of the gelada baboon. Do you think it’s a natural step from primatology to asking questions about humans?
I think the short answer is yes – almost everybody who has worked on primates has ended up also...

With this shift of taxonomic focus went a shift of interest from questions of origins and evolutionary history to questions of mechanism. ‘How does it work?’ became the driving focus of interest, gradually displacing the more evolutionarily influenced questions of ‘Why do we...

When I tell people that I study vocal communication in chimpanzees and that I work in a psychology department I am often greeted with surprised faces. I go on to explain thatI am interested in language and trying to trace the evolutionary history of this remarkable human...

The Brain that Changes Itself:
Stories of Personal Triumph from
the Frontiers of Brain Science
Norman Doidge
Penguin; 2008; Pb £9.99

I sing the brain neuroplastic’ should perhaps be the title of this somehow very American book...